Cloudy with a chance of fog

Looking back at yesterday’s blog post, I did a pretty well at predicting what my first day back at work would be like.

I enjoyed coffee and stories with friends before heading into the office. (I also got to enjoy Eggs Benedict and, in a bizarre twist of fate, score yet another pen.)

I spent my morning at the office wading through the 80-odd emails that arrived while I was on leave. Fortunately I could delete a lot of them straight away: so-and-so is away, you haven’t done such-and-such a task, etc.

And at lunchtime I cashed in some of my vouchers and gift certificates on a couple of books: “The CSS Anthology” (to help me get this web site up to scratch) and “The Pissed-Off Parents Club” (because it looks like a fun read).

But when my lunch break ended, so did my run of successful predictions. Because instead of “a good two hours of solid work”, I just stared at the screen and sighed a lot.

You see, during the holidays I spent a lot of my time reading books, blogs, and so on. I got used to reading articles and stories that said everything they need to and nothing more. I got used to authors who knew how to construct not just sentences and paragraphs, but entire documents. And I got used to finishing them knowing exactly what they wanted me to know.

But now I’m back at work, where documents can touch on a dozen different ideas without clarifying any of them. Where there seems to be a competition to come up with the longest and most confusing sentence (current record: 87 words). And where, after reading one of these documents, you’re more confused about the topic than when you started.

After two hours of this it felt like my mind became trapped in a thick fog, and I could hardly think straight. (“Weather forecast for Bill’s mind: Clear at first, but quickly becoming cloudy with the chance of heavy fog later in the day”.) It may be the effect they’re after, but having put up with it for nearly 20 years I’m getting sick of it.

Late last year there was a competition where people could submit ideas on how to make the organisation more efficient. My suggestion? Send everyone on a decent writing course. Teach everyone how to construct a sentence, a paragraph, a document. And make everyone realise that spending an extra half an hour editing will save the organisation hundreds of hours overall.

I doubt I’ll win. I doubt my idea will even be considered. I can almost hear them discussing my entry now.

“We can’t afford to do it.”

You can’t afford not to.

“We don’t have the time.”

It will save time in the long run.

“We don’t need it—anyone can write.”

I really need a new job.

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